field trip

7. Surfacing


October comes like a blessing. 

There are spaces on the calendar. Both children seem to be settling happily in their destinations. There are even some potential openings for work, so perhaps money will soon become less of an issue (though doubtless that will entail a concomitant lack of time for study)…we’ll see.

The morning of Week 3 of the course is still a little frustrating; we are studying botanical nomenclature and those of us who have not studied it before are falling behind as the class progresses. I feel deeply frustrated, and remind myself that it is good to be in this position. As Dave, my classmate, reassuringly says, ‘We’ll get there’. I’m aware that I’m still panicking a little, and am still quite wired. I’m also aware that as the class pairs up for a task, I am left to work on my own. I feel vulnerable and a little paranoid. I know that in my wired state I can be very much too much for many people, including myself. I’m hoping my desperation and panic haven’t burned all my bridges at the start.

The afternoon sees our first field trip — out to Gullane to forage the sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides). I’m delighted to have the chance to actually harvest (see previous post ‘Marginalia’), and the weather turns out gloriously for us. Unfortunately, though, I have some paid work scheduled for the evening. When I took the job, the start time allowed the short hop from the Botanics to the centre of town. East Lothian is quite another matter. Getting to the field trip now means leaving the Botanics as soon as morning classes end, hopping across the city on the No. 27 bus, picking up my van and driving out to rendezvous with the rest of the group. I miss lunch, and the shared experience and camaraderie of the minibus. Luckily, I arrive right on cue, although two new people — whose names and roles I do not know — have joined the group.

The mad dash is entirely worth it. Catherine leads us on a short ident. walk and then we forage for a while. As ever, the knowledge she imparts is invaluable. I want more of this, but as the foraging comes to a close I have to leave to get the van back into town, then switch to the bicycle to get to my assignment. As I drive off, I’m lamenting what I know I must be missing. 

At home, I’ve almost finished storing my offsprings’ worldly goods, and am fashioning myself a study space. I’m very proud of it, and it’s feeling like home. And as the reality of the empty nest sinks in, I’m glad I have prepared a scaffold towards a new life. I’m even imagining spaces in the calendar where I can continue the more general domestic renovations — but I might be getting ahead of myself there. There is a lot of course work to be done.

I am still without an RBGE fob/pass, which serves as a student card. This means I am still unable to go to yoga, or to the pictures, as I can’t get discount. But my other life has just blessed me with the privilege of a University of Edinburgh library card, and a morning trawl of the local Amnesty bookshop serves up a perfect primer on organic chemistry. 

As I sip my fresh sea buckthorn leaf tea, it’s beginning to feel like things are falling into place.

Image by Deviantart